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Falmouth hears turbine concerns

FALMOUTH – A meeting Monday night to address Falmouth residents’ concerns about their municipal wind turbines was more peaceful than past discussions, but the same frustrations were evident.

While the meeting was more cordial, disputes still ran deep over how much of an impact Wind I, the town’s 1.65-megawatt turbine, has had on neighbors who have reported a compromised quality of life.

“The inside of our house looks like a disco in the morning,” Malcolm Donald, a turbine abutter, told the crowd while showing a YouTube video of the turbine “shadow flicker” affecting his living room. “The whole neighborhood gets flashed.”

Donald’s worries and those of other neighbors living near the turbines have been heard “every two weeks” at the board of health’s regular meetings, board chairwoman Gail Harkness said.

Those concerns were addressed Monday by a variety of speakers, from sound engineers hired by both the town and the turbine abutters to representatives of several state offices and turbine manufacturer Vestas.

But the message from several speakers at the meeting was that conflicting reports of the turbines’ effects and a lack of peer-reviewed studies on their potential impact on people’s health make looking into fixing the Falmouth turbines’ problems difficult.

But that could improve soon for two reasons, speakers said.

On Wednesday, two state offices plan to announce the creation of a joint panel to hear residents’ concerns about wind turbines’ possible health effects, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Assistant Secretary Steven Clarke said.

The panel created by his office and the Department of Environmental Protection will also look for credible studies the state could use to create regulations, he said.

At the town level, residents will soon be able to post comments online via a form that will include questions about the type of turbine noise and the effect it has, Harkness said.

Additional public comment will be heard during a joint meeting between the board of selectmen and planning board on July 11, said Mary “Pat” Flynn, newly elected chairwoman of the selectmen.

Monday night’s meeting was ongoing at the Times’ deadline.

Comments can also be addressed to falmouthwind@gmail.com, Flynn said.

Comments directed to the new state panel may be sent to windturbinedocket.massdep@massmail.state.ma.us.